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The News Gallery

June 2007

EXPLORING NEW FIELDS - Expanding Your Horizons Helps Young Women See the World of Science, Mathematics & Engineering Through the Eyes of Women Mentors

News Gallery - June 2007 Editor: Robert Herman
Public Information Officer
(559) 733-6606

Contributors to this issue:
Christine Chapman, Marlene Moreno-Woods, Priscilla Gomez, Shelly DiCenzo, Lorena White, Marsha Ingrao, Anne Clifford, Randy Wallace, Pat Hansen, Kathleen Rumelhart, Katie Moore, Kelley Petty and Jane Mitchell.

The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at chrisc@tcoe.org or (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.

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Young Women Explore Science-Based Careers
Expanding Your Horizons Event Will Be Offered Again in October

The young women entering Debby Kilburn's seminar "They Play With LEGOS® in College" had to walk by an enticing sea of the colorful plastic blocks spread on the floor of a College of the Sequoias classroom. Once seated, the girls listened as Kilburn explained that students do play with LEGOS® in college  at least if they're enrolled in her robotics class at Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest. Through a video, Kilburn showed the girls amazing motorized robots built from LEGOS® by her students.

Expanding Your Horizons After a brief introduction about the tiny motors pre-programmed to turn wheels, Kilburn challenged the students to build their own LEGO® robot ambulance capable of traveling a simple course. While some lost their wheels and others ran amuck, eight robots were built by teams of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls in less than one hour. More importantly, participants got a hands-on look into the world of engineering and computer science.

Kilburn was one of more than 30 women from the fields of engineering, mathematics and medicine presenting to over 700 young women at the annual Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) event held last month. The Tulare County Office of Education and College of the Sequoias have designed EYH to help young women in grades four through eight explore careers in mathematics, technology, science and engineering. It also helps them form personal contacts with women working in professions traditionally held by men.

Expanding Your Horizons This year, Dr. Heather Moore, a molecular biology instructor at College of the Sequoias, was the keynote speaker. "It's important for young women to not only hear about careers based in math and science, but also to identify with the women, like Dr. Moore, who are leading the way in these fields," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

For information on the EYH event planned for October 2007, contact Jane Mitchell at (559) 651-0562.

Photos above:
~ Debby Kilburn, an instructor at Cerro Coso Community College, led a popular hands-on demonstration utilizing robots. Her session exposed girls to the fields of computer science, engineering and transportation.
~ Chaperones and teachers like Kim Webb were instrumental in getting girls from schools throughout Tulare County to the popular event, which will be held again in October.

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CBI Classes Build Life Skills in Young Adults
Annual CAC Luncheon Highlights Tulare Program and Its Teacher

Community Based Instruction program Each year, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) holds its annual luncheon to report on progress made in serving students with special needs. The CAC is an organization made up of parents of students with special needs along with other appointees including general and special education teachers. The highlight of the CAC's luncheon is the presentation of honors for teachers, administrators and support staff who work with students in districts throughout the county. The Brent Rast Award is also presented to one exemplary teacher from the Tulare County Office of Education's Special Services Division who works with the severely handicapped.

Teacher Anne Clifford This year, the luncheon also included an overview presentation of one of the many successful programs for students with special needs. The Community Based Instruction (CBI) program based in Tulare was featured. Teacher Anne Clifford gave an upbeat PowerPoint presentation about her students, their daily instruction and the work skills they have gained. She also had several of her students come to the podium and talk about the things they had learned through CBI. "At the heart of the CBI classes are dedicated men and women, like Anne Clifford, working with supportive businesses, cities and families to develop the skills of these young adults," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak.

Community Based Instruction program The program in Tulare is one of six CBI sites in Tulare County. CBI students, who are usually 18 to 22 years old, develop work skills, focus on hygiene, manage personal finances and gain experience with public transportation and cell phone communications. Anne says each day begins with students assessing each other's appearance and asking: "Would you hire this person?" She also reported that instruction in her classroom is rooted in the principles of the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. Her presentation had plenty of photos of students at work, including work as a landscape maintenance crew for the City Parks Department. After her presentation  and to her surprise  Anne was called back to the podium to receive the Brent Rast Award from Dr. Mike Stephens, administrator for Severely Handicapped Services.

Photos above:
~ Tulare CBI graduates Brandon Barrier, Andrew Hutchinson, Maria Espinoza, Victoria Carlson, Alfonso Munguia and Alfonso Hernandez take a break from the landscaping duties in Centennial Park.
~ CBI teacher Anne Clifford received the Brent Rast Award at a recent luncheon.
~ Instructional Aide Lisa Green helps Maria Espinoza plan her choices for an outing to Chili's restaurant.
~ Alfonzo Munguia and classmates work on a maintenance crew for the City of Tulare.

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Beginning Teachers Celebrate Growth
Support Providers Honored for Commitment to Beginning Teachers

"I began my year anxiously," wrote Green Acres Middle School teacher Kelly Arreola. "John (Wight) immediately helped me build confidence and lighten my load. Since he understands the burdens of a first year teacher, he took my yard duty for the year. The time before school and at break are valuable minutes for a teacher, but this has been a tradition he has continued for the other first year teachers he has mentored."

Year 1 Support Provider of the Year John Wight The appreciation Kelly Arreola describes for her mentor, or Support Provider, was echoed by other first- and second-year teacher candidates attending the Year 1 and Year 2 Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Induction Colloquia May 8 and 15. This year, for the first time, two special Support Providers were honored for their mentoring work with the beginning teachers.

Year 2 Support Provider of the Year Don Aamodt John Wight, of Green Acres Middle School in Visalia, was named Support Provider of the Year for Year 1. The Year 2 honoree was Don Aamodt, a retired teacher from Cutler-Orosi Unified School District, who is currently serving in multiple capacities as IMPACT Intern Program Supervisor, BTSA Induction Support Provider and Induction Portfolio Mentor. Both gentlemen were nominated by their respective participating teachers and selected by a panel of Induction program staff. "We had many wonderful letters of nomination from our beginning teachers," says BTSA Induction Director Pat Hansen. "The common threads throughout them were the seasoned support and continued passion for teaching the mentors were able to give to our beginning teachers."

A BTSA Induction Colloquium is the culminating activity for each of the two years of the program. Participating teachers are expected to share the professional growth they have experienced since the beginning of their teaching careers. As usual, Tulare County's newest educators proved themselves to be avid learners who clearly articulated the development they have seen in their first year or two of teaching. "It's encouraging to see the excitement of hundreds of new teachers each year," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "It's an excitement we know was fostered by hundreds of other veteran teachers who have served as Support Providers."

Read the
nomination essays. (pdf)

Photos above:
~ Joseph Jimenez (Regional BTSA Cluster Consultant), Kelly Arreola (Year 1 Participating Teacher from Green Acres Middle School, Visalia), John Wight (Support Provider of the Year for Year 1, Green Acres Middle School), Pat Hansen (BTSA Induction Director), and Ron Koop (BTSA Induction Coordinator).
~ Participating teacher, Valarie Seita from Divisadero Middle School with Don Aamodt, Support Provider of the Year for Year 2.

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Young Entrepreneurs Envision Better Valley
Golden West Team Wins First Annual Event Sponsored By The Gas Company

The scene on stage at El Diamante High School's theater a few weeks ago could have been performed in any boardroom, restaurant or golf course across America. On stage were earnest entrepreneurs pitching their ideas  hoping what they had envisioned would be supported. For the six teams presenting in the first annual Student Entrepreneur Challenge, the support came in the form of checks from The Gas Company, the major sponsor for the event. In total, $5,250 was given out to participating high school programs.

Student Entrepreneurs Challenge The teams that participated in the event this year were: Tulare Tech Prep High School, Monache High School in Porterville, two teams from Lemoore High School, Golden West High School in Visalia and El Diamante High School in Visalia. The Challenge asked students to develop products, services or other economic growth ideas that can be applied in the San Joaquin Valley. Some of the projects presented included an alternative fuel program, a time-released energy drink, a school-based health clinic and a virtual travel attraction based in the Valley. Judges for the event included leaders from the major economic development agencies in Tulare and Kings counties and business executives.

Student Entrepreneurs Challenge "The teams that participated in the Challenge showed a great deal of vision in addressing some of the challenges we face as a region," says Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "Thanks to all the business mentors, educators and, of course, The Gas Company, this program is the kind of collaborative model young people in the San Joaquin Valley need to shape a better future."

The 2008 Student Entrepreneur Challenge will be launched at the "BizTalk 07" business conference October 5, 2007, at the Visalia Convention Center. High school teams in Tulare, Kings and southern Fresno counties are encouraged to participate. For registration information, call Randy Wallace, School-to-Career Project Director at (559) 733-6101.

Photos above:
~ Bruce Beatie and Holly Collins were part of the Golden West High School team responsible for the winning entrepreneurial idea. The team proposed incentives to create a valley-wide biodiesel program available to vehicles traveling along Highway 99 and Interstate 5. As the winning team, the Golden West program was awarded $2,000.
~ Denesa Moore from Lemoore High School Team 1 explains her team's concept for a children's college fund development business to judge Mike Mizrahi from The Gas Company.

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On People in Service and Support

Safari in a Box Educational Resource Services (ERS) Program Manager Elainea Scott (far right) accepts the donation of one of two "Safari in a Box" kits. The hands-on collection of animal pelts, plastic replicas of animal skulls, scat and tracks also includes two videos, lesson plans and teacher guides. Paul Whitelock and Mary Lynn West of Safari Club International Orange County Chapter donated the kits to the county schools library for use in teaching about animal habitats, conservation, ecology and the impact of human-animal interactions. Also pictured is ERS Client Relations Assistant Nariman Ajluni.

CHARACTER COUNTS! mural at Tulare Western High School Macario Trejo and Brandon Elmore are two of the student artists responsible for the new CHARACTER COUNTS! mural at Tulare Western High School. The mural melds the Six Pillars of Character with the school's famous palms which line the entrance to the campus. The piece also illustrates that lessons of character learned in school help prepare students for life beyond high school.

U.C. Merced's listening tour Last month, Dr. Steve Kang, U.C. Merced's recently appointed chancellor conducted a four-stop "listening tour" in Tulare County. Chancellor Kang held discussion forums with key education and community leaders. Pictured with Chancellor Kang at a luncheon held in the TCOE Education Center are (left to right) Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and John Stankovich, Kings County Superintendent of Schools.

Kaye van Gilluwe Kaye van Gilluwe, administrator for Student Support Services with the Special Services Division, was recently chosen as the Region 11 Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Pupil/Personnel Administrator of the Year. Ms. van Gilluwe was recognized for her outstanding efforts to provide the latest in information, training and support for teachers and parents of students with special needs.

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Gallery Notes

In May, Vickie Jewell, a TCOE Special Day Class teacher at Washington Elementary School in Lindsay, was honored with an Outstanding Student Award from California State University, Fresno's Special Education Department Credential Program. Ms. Jewell began her career with the Special Services Division in 1987 as an instructional assistant. She became a Special Day Class teacher in August 2004.

Three Tulare County entries advanced to the finals in the California History Day event in Long Beach. The projects were: Austin Holbert from Kings River Elementary, with his performance "California Gold Rush: Balancing the Truth;" Amanda Jost and Holly Wilson from Kings River Elementary, with their performance "Tell Our Stories;" and Allison Ross, Chelsea Wells, Sophie Paggi and Raquel Ramirez from Tulare City GATE with their documentary "1849: The Start of a Dream." Amanda Jost and Holly Wilson also won the prestigious JoAnn Burton and Susan Philips Award for outstanding performance. Janet Kelly, a teacher from Kings River School, was honored with one of two Educator of Merit awards presented. For a complete list of Tulare County projects entered in the county event, visit

A dozen Tulare County students participating in the annual Foundations for Life essay competition received rankings in the top 25 percent of entries nationwide. Tulare County students with the highest scores in the contest's "Summa Cum Laude" category were Shelby Woods, a sixth grader, and Amanda Laufer, an eighth grader from Wilson Middle School in Exeter, along with Elliot Trueblood, a junior at La Sierra High School in Porterville.

Bruce Keller, teacher at La Sierra High School in Porterville was named the 2007 Newspapers in Education Teacher of the Year by the Porterville Recorder. Mr. Keller told the Porterville Recorder that a newspaper puts everything taught in a classroom into perspective. He was nominated by Principal Jan Mekeel, who praised him for helping make students more aware of their world. Mr. Keller has taught at La Sierra High School for four years.

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Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219

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